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Medic Dismisses Link Between Blindness and Garri 

By Maxcel Fokwen

Dr Zachs Ebongo, Director Kumba District Hospital

Dr Zachs Ebongo, Director Kumba District Hospital

The Director of Kumba District Hospital, Dr Zachs Ebongo Nanje, has dismissed the notion that garri consumption causes blindness.

The Ophthalmologist made the clarification to reporters at the end of a two-day back- to- school free eye screening campaign.

The campaign, which spanned from September 1-2, saw the screening of over 300 persons.

According to the Medic, the popular belief that when students consume a lot of garri, it affects the quality of their vision is not true.

“That notion has no scientific bases,” Ebongo said.

He called on school administrators and Principals not to habour such notions as they strife to take care of students.

The Hospital Director disclosed that the notion originated from a hypothesis a Nigerian Professor of Ophthalmology established many years ago.

He said the professor had discovered that people from a particular region of Nigeria developed optic nerves problem after consuming a particular strain of cassava containing a heavy metal.

Dr Ebongo advised parents and students that eye health depends on balance diet rich in vitamin A.

He further explained that once the eye has the required nutrients, it will function at full capacity without any shortcoming.

The Ophthalmologist said the campaign falls in line with Government action to assist parents as they prepare children for the new school year.

“Without such campaigns, you cannot detect children with refractive errors and other eye problems. When a child has an eye problem, the learning process becomes difficult. In cases like the amphitheatres in Universities, a child with eye problems may be condemned to occupy only the front seat.

Short-sightedness will affect the child. If a child misses lecture, the danger is enormous,” Ebongo stated.
Concerning parents, the Medic said if they have sight challenges, it affects their productivity at the job site and consequently, the well being of their children.

He said records at the Eye Unit of the hospital show that most of the adults who occupy positions linked to money in companies have problems at their job site due to sight problems.

The Director, overwhelmed, said measures were put in place to satisfy everybody.

He said as health care providers, it would have been unwise for the hospital to be indifferent at a time when the attention of the entire public is focused on schools reopening.

On the cost of such treatments, the Director said the client and the hospital share the burden.
Ebongo said the hospital shouldered a chunk of the expenses to the tune of FCFA 450,000.

“Beside the amount, workers also got extra motivation, given that; they laboured beyond the normal working hours.”